Maryland health officials deemed Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock’s church-run summer camp unsafe to operate due to a spate of unreported child abuse allegations and safety-code violations, according to state records obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The records, from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, paint a picture of an environment where campers were routinely left unsupervised, staffers were not subject to required criminal background checks, and at least five cases of child abuse or neglect were brought against the camp’s director, who was ultimately forced to resign.
The documents raise new questions for Warnock, who has faced scrutiny over his 2002 arrest for allegedly hindering and obstructing a child abuse investigation at the camp by Maryland State Police. In an arrest report published by the Free Beacon, police said Warnock interrupted police interviews with counselors, discouraged subjects from talking to investigators without the camp’s lawyer present, and was “extremely uncooperative and disruptive.” The charges against Warnock were later dropped by the state attorney’s office.
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene records indicate that during Warnock’s tenure as the pastor for Douglas Memorial Community Church, the camp it operated—known as Camp Farthest Out—failed to properly report multiple child abuse incidents involving camp staff, leading the department to revoke its certificate to operate.
The camp’s director, Brian Carter, was “party to several findings of indicated child abuse or neglect brought on behalf of the following individuals while he was a camp counselor for the Camp,” according to a letter from Camp Farthest Out lawyer Paul D. Shelton to the county prosecutor’s office on July 10, 2003.
The letter lists five Department of Social Services findings, with the alleged victims’ names redacted, that were filed against Carter between January and March 2003. Shelton argued that the camp was not notified of the findings, which is why it had failed to properly report them.
That was six months after Warnock allegedly interfered with police officers who had shown up at the camp as part of an investigation into child abuse allegations.
Warnock was hired as the pastor for Douglas Memorial in September 2001. It’s not clear when he left the church, but he said in 2018 that he served as pastor for “about five years.” His leadership plan included expanding the church’s summer camp.